TORONTO – The saying is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
That definitely was not the case last night as the only thing people were saying after Canadian Idol winner Brian Melo along with finalists Jaydee Bixby and Carly Rae Jepsen performed at Massey Hall in Toronto was how much they had changed… for the better.
The trio returned to Toronto for the first time since the show finished taping in September as part of their nationwide tour (sponsored by Telus). It is the first time in Canadian Idol history that the finalists have toured the country after the finale and if all shows were as great as the one last night, I am confident that this will become more than just a one-time thing.
It was an all-day Idol extravaganza for the Murtzinator yesterday as I followed the Idols on all of their stops to fully immerse myself in the Idol experience.
The first stop was an autograph signing at the Telus store at the Eaton Centre. Just like I do with every movie and date that I go on, I arrived two hours early to get a lay of the land and make sure that Murtz had the home-field advantage. Because media wasn’t expected at the signing, I was told to stand-in-line, and this was alright, because I was first. When Bixby, Jepsen and Melo arrived, they all greeted me with a hug and I think were just as shocked to see me first in-line as I was to be there. Brian asked if I was keeping busy and I said that it was busy for a bit because I had just covered the So You Think You Can Dance tour. It was pretty cool for the Idol to ask how I was doing while being in the midst of the best time of his life.
This was followed by a private meet and greet reception at Massey Hall before the concert. There were other people around that had won passes from my favorite radio station and yours, Z103.5 and we got to briefly hang out with the trio.
The Idols were full-fledged rock stars now, jettisoned from one signing to the next and it was amazing to see that they now had the respect that they so richly deserved.
When the Idols were first discovered and hit the John Bassett theatre over the summer, they were amateurs and definitely not used to playing in front of hundreds of people live (added to the pressure of knowing that their song would be heard by millions of people watching on TV). Last night’s concert showed that they can no longer be tagged just as first-timers since Melo, Bixby, and Jepsen were now seasoned professionals.
The show began promptly at 8 p.m. as Jaydee was the first to hit the stage. I was immediately fascinated by the placement of the singers as I thought Carly (who finished in third place) would open the show, followed by the Canadian Idol runner-up and culminated by its ultimate champion. Instead, organizers probably felt that sandwiching Jepsen’s songs between the two males was the best strategy and, in hindsight, I can’t say that I disagreed.
There is no question in my mind that Bixby was the star of the show. When Canadian Idol was in full bloom, I often said that he was always the best performer and his act on a real stage at a real tour was even better. The 16-year old strutted onto the stage with the swagger of a young Mick Jagger and the showmanship of an adolescent Elvis as he jokingly introduced himself and his band as “The Beverly Hillbillies.” He then launched into a six-song set that included Idol favorites, “Break It To Them Gently,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and “Sold.” Bixby’s “Suspicious Minds” cover was noteworthy not just in his set but the most memorable moment of the show itself. The crowd sang along and it was a scene unlike anything I have ever seen before as the doe-eyed singer ran into the crowd, gave scarves that he was wearing to audience members, and even posed for a photo with a front-row fan before returning to the stage. The Drumheller native also won the crowd over when he repeatedly kept saying they that they were “awesome” and took a photo of the audience as part of the collage he was making to remember the experience. I knew that Jaydee was good when I initially saw him on the show week-in and week-out, I just didn’t know that he was that good.
Everyone knows how much I loved Carly Rae Jepsen on Idol and it is an undeniable fact that she was my pick to win. When it was her turn to perform, she provided a completely different feel to the show because after Jaydee’s loud and proud country routine, Jepsen’s set was soft, bluesy and definitely incorporated the jazz elements that she perfected when we first saw her. A stunning vision on-stage, Jepsen enjoyed playful banter with the band and was especially entertaining when she said that she preferred the house lights to be turned on so that she could see everyone and so that she “wouldn’t feel so alone.” Her set included “Sweet Ones,” “Breathe,” and “Torn.”
After intermission, the 2006 Canadian Idol ran onto the stage from the crowd and Brian Melo received the biggest cheer of the night as he wailed “Can’t Stop” to start the second half of the show. The singer definitely showed the versatility of his voice as he also sang “Karma Police,” “She Talks To Angels” and “If You Could Only See.” Critics have said that Melo is a new-age Idol and this is completely the case. The bubblegum aspect of the show has been popped as the program now provides a launching for upstart Canadian talent that is not limited to just one type of singer. The edgy and alternative Melo benefited from the fact that the show and its audience had grown to a point where they could appreciate a talent like his. To be honest, Melo has also grown as his stage performance had improved from the last time that I had seen him. His performance of his latest single “All I Ever Wanted” (off his recently-released first album) was spectacular and once again highlighted his development from the last time he performed the same song at the Idol finale.
The show ended with two encore performances that featured all three singers hitting the stage at the same time. “We Will Rock You” and “Life Is A Highway” were great choices as they got everyone standing and singing along before heading home.
To be honest, the only minor nitpick that I had was that I think that the Idols should have changed outfits during the show more and especially when they all returned for the encores. I think that this would have given the show more of a different vibe than the previous Bassett performances, but concerts are about to be the music and the on-stage performances and in this regard, the Idol tour was perfect.
The world’s foremost reality television expert and Canadian Idol‘s only authority, Murtz Jaffer highly recommends Brian Melo, Jaydee Bixby and Carly Rae Jepsen: The Tour and the show still has Ontario and Western dates until the middle of December.
That’s Alright Mama
Break It To Them Gently
Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Carly Rae Jepsen
Put Your Records On
She Talks To Angels
If You Could Only See
All I Ever Wanted
Jaydee/Carly Rae/Brian (Encores)
We Will Rock You
Life Is A Highway
Here are the remaining dates for Brian Melo, Jaydee Bixby and Carly Rae Jepsen: The Tour
Dec. 1 Hamilton, ON – Hamilton Place Theatre
Dec. 3 North Bay, ON – Capitol Theatre
Dec. 5 Thunder Bay, ON – Thunder Bay Auditorium
Dec. 6 Winnipeg, MB – Burton Cummings Theatre
Dec. 7 Saskatoon, SK – Lakeview Auditorium
Dec. 8 Red Deer, AB – Red Deer Memorial Centre
Dec. 10 Surrey, BC – Bell Centre for the Performing Arts
Dec. 12 Edmonton, AB – Winspear Centre
Dec. 13 Red Deer, AB – Red Deer Memorial Centre
Dec. 14 Red Deer, AB – Red Deer Memorial Centre
Tags: Canadian Idol